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Digital First Scientific Communications – How digital is transforming scientific communications
EPISODE 2 – Enhanced Publication Content Today and Tomorrow
This podcast series will focus on how digital is transforming scientific communications.
Episode 2 will focus on different forms of enhanced publication content (EPC) and new approaches that might change manuscript development.
Jennifer Riggins 00:00
Welcome to the Medical Affairs Professional Society’s Digital Focus Area Working Group’s podcast series, “Digital First Scientific Communications, How Digital is Transforming Medical Communications”. In our first podcast we spoke with Joanne Walker, Head of Publishing Solutions, Future Science Group about the Digital Transformation of Medical Journal Publishing. We hope you enjoyed that podcast. In the second podcast episode, we’ll be discussing enhanced publication content today and tomorrow. I am Jennifer Riggins, I’ll be the moderator for this podcast. I currently serve as a member of the Digital Focus Area Working Group. I worked at Eli Lilly and Company for 28 years with a focus on medical information, scientific communications and medical digital. I’m joined by Steve Casey of Omni Healthcare Communications, a leader in digitally optimized medical communications. This podcast series follows on to the Elevate article, Audience Amplification and Digital Scientific Exchange, and the MAPS Audience Amplification webinar held in February 2021.
Steve Casey 01:05
The views expressed in this recording of those of the individuals and not necessarily reflect the opinions of MAPS, or the companies with which they are affiliated. This presentation is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or regulatory advice.
Jennifer Riggins 01:20
We encourage you to engage in conversations about audience amplification, and digital first medical communications with other MAPS members via MAPS Connect on the MAPS website or mobile app. Simply log in with the email address and password associated with your MAPS account and access the global community. Then click on the discuss tab and scroll down to digital to post a question or review previous postings. Our podcast objectives are for listeners to gain a better understanding of the opportunities available due to the digital transformation of scientific publishing. To learn more about Enhanced Publication Content and extenders, and to gain a different perspective on using enhanced publication content, or EPCs, for short, to improve access and impact for scientific publications. Today, we will be discussing data visualizations and other enhanced publication content with Sarah Burns. Sarah is the Data Visualization Director Global Scientific Communications at Eli Lilly and Company. Welcome, Sarah. I’m really glad that you could join us today. Can you give us a brief background of your career and your current position?
Sarah Burns 02:31
Thank you, Jenn. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today. Regarding my personal journey to tool back I received my bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, Digital Design and Media Management in the 90s and then went back to school in the early millennium to get a health communications certificate at Johns Hopkins. I actually began my career working for print publications as a health writer and editor, often on staff for women’s magazines like Prevention and WeightWatchers. And then I took a pivot in the middle of the millennium to focus on what was then the emergence of digital. This was back in 2008, which as most recall was the year Facebook entered the scene and social media really began to explode. Content Strategist like myself at that time began asking more questions around content consumption. And the reality that digital could actually take over print began to become a real fear for many publications at that time. So, I leaned into that landscape and began focusing on digital content strategy, and really looking at more dynamic content experiences to offer to audiences on health information. I was recruited by the New York Times and time magazine.com To direct and lead their teams to produce dynamic health content experiences that went beyond their traditional paper driven model. I spent 15 years in New York City working as a director on those staffs and building digital teams, before I was recruited to help health systems and hospitals like the New York Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic completely transformed their digital presence to offer more content impact to their clinicians and their patients. So, I leaned into another dimension of creating content impact for those customers and consumers before few years later, I was recruited by Eli Lilly. And I had never had the opportunity to work in pharma before. So, it was a landscape I had yet to fully explore. Their opportunity was to look across their enterprise and identify and establish meaningful and dynamic content opportunities. So, I began my path in the marketing side, focusing on business transformation teams, and looking at the websites for the company, and then leaned into my current role in global scientific communications in which I now oversee the publication and regulatory medical writers of neuroscience as well as the data visualization strategy for all therapeutic areas and their publications.
Steve Casey 04:57
Sarah, it’s so great to speak with you again. You know, Jennifer and I really enjoyed your presentation during our earlier MAPS audience amplification webinar in February. But in that webinar, we really only skimmed the surface of some of the things you’re doing Lily, could you give us an idea that different things that you work on and maybe touch on the enhanced publication content, EPC, and what your objectives are and using EPC?
Sarah Burns 05:22
Absolutely. So at Lily, we strive to create successful content impact. That’s to say that our aim is to create accurate, engaging, memorable content experiences in our publications. When our teams make the decision to create a data visualization. We first look at their bucket of critical manuscripts, I’m referring to First Data readouts, primary manuscript opportunities, those publication deliverables, answering key and critical customer questions. When teams align on creating a data visualization to submit with one of their critical publications. As the director in that space, my first question to them is, what is the key scientific learning you are trying to convey? And how and where do you want to share that? Who is your audience and journal aligned? Who are the individuals who want the message? What is the specialty in the therapeutic area of the clinicians or the listeners? Now we know that not every medical journal offers a data visualization opportunity. So, it’s essential to align on a potential journal that offers the options you want to execute on first, and one that also has a flexible copyright policy, if you want to reuse the dynamic content after that opportunity. approaches for a data visualization can vary from anything from a video to a more advanced motion graphic, depicting a complex dataset. And it can be dependent on anything from the therapeutic area, to the age and specialty of the clinician in the therapeutic area who’s listening or looking at the content itself. So, while I can guide and offer best practices and think pieces, it’s really ultimately a decision for the specific teams on how and where they want to share their data.
Jennifer Riggins 07:07
You know, I never really quite realized the breadth of what you’ve been doing for Lily, Sarah, I’m sure you draw on some of your experience from outside biopharma to assist in creating and disseminating the data visualizations for Lily, can you speak to why scientific publishers are offering EPCs and other tools to authors?
Sarah Burns 07:25
Sure, Jenn. Scientific publishers are now making big decisions on their end to go beyond the limits of what was once a traditionally paper driven product experience. They have no choice but to now push themselves into a more digitally driven landscape, because that’s where their audience is spending most of their time. The reality is, is that we no longer have clinicians reading an entire paperback medical journal, more and more subsets, especially younger clinicians are now relying on their phones or mobile devices to consume most of the content. In fact, based on a recent survey of HCPs across the country, we really found that 90% of them considered themselves triple screen users, and 66% wish for more visual content in their actual medical meetings and conferences. Long planks of text are being replaced by more visually appealing options that can still convey the same information but in a more succinct, and a more engaging format, like an infographic, or a video or podcast. visual content is more engaging, succinct and attractive to the eye. It’s versatile and it can engage many audiences. What many often forget is that visual content also has what I like to call a clip and save value. Clinicians can save it and bring it up later for quick reference when they’re tight on time. And we all know that’s a very common occurrence. Scientific publishers are finally acknowledging that they can secure more audience engagements by offering a variety of formats to consume content on their medical journal websites. And we are living in one of the most competitive content landscapes in history. With digital everything is available to us all the time, and medical journals are also being pulled into the same space. These journals are businesses after all, and they need to compete with consumer engagement. Additionally, with the pandemic, we also found that there’s a perfect storm opportunity to build on the state of affairs. More individuals were in lockdown at home relying on technology to consume and obtain key and critical pieces of information to care for their patients. The last component here to consider is social media. Most medical publications now have their own platforms, whether it’s YouTube or Twitter or Facebook. And these digital platforms often need to be populated with fresh content daily. And we all know that digital audiences have less patience and more of an appetite when it comes to new content. So, medical journal digital channels are often a feed the beast, beat the clock mentality to push out new and engaging content experience audiences for their audiences. They are business after all with competitors to consider. What does this mean for scientific publications and data visualizations? Well, when we know that social media is out of scope for scientific publications, medical Writing teams, they can submit a manuscript with a detailed infographic that creatively depicts their data. And that can actually be a very attractive double duty option to journal editors. Perhaps the editors choose to tweet out your graphic, medical journal, social media platforms can be very impactful. I mean, think about this, the New England Journal of Medicine, Twitter feed, it has 858,000 followers, and their Facebook page? They’re currently at 1.8 million followers. This is a lot of people. However, there are things to consider beyond the needs of your audience. When you think about dynamic content creation, and one is the actual capability of your medical journal websites. Some smaller journals may not have the ability to publish or host certain types of content. And that’s critical to find out on the forefront, the copyright policy of the journal, it’s another consideration, and something that should be top of mind to the team prior to submission. Many journals retain the copyright upon publication, which means that you’ll need to relinquish the rights and that may be satisfactory to some teams, but to others, it may be problematic who wants to keep using that content internally.
Steve Casey 11:29
I agree with you. I believe that scientific publishers will continue to offer services to authors that will help differentiate them from their competitors. But when I think about this, my biggest question is what kind of tools will we be seeing? Do you have any feel have any thoughts on what scientific communicators might expect to see as enhanced offerings in the future?
Sarah Burns 11:53
Sure, there are a few main formats that we’re actually seeing with more frequency. I think the first one is videos, whether they are created in real time or pre recorded. I mean, nowadays, they are the next best thing to a face to face real time interaction, so they continue to be a very popular format. There are a few different approaches to consider when you decide to forge ahead with a video. We’ve seen featured slide sets with inset speakers, traditional oral presentations, and then video animations with voiceovers. I will say with video creation, what we learned at Lilly is that you need to consider storyboarding out your video before you begin recording. really determining who will speak on behalf of the authoring team aligning on key scientific information to present and deciding which slides or images you want to create prior to recording. I think the other trend, we’re looking at his podcasts. These are on the upswing in scientific publications. The JAMA Network is a great example with hundreds of podcasts being delivered via subscription to the journal across an array of therapeutic areas. podcasts for scientific pubs are generally on hot topics. Typically 15 to 20 minutes in length involve an interview with the author, and are often by invitation only upon acceptance from the journal. Most journals are in charge of recording and launching and facilitating these projects. And it’s still best to prep in advance like with videos. So, if the journal wants to conduct an interview format, I always advise our teams for ask the questions in advance so that they can be prepared and then helping them rehearse. The worst podcast in the world can feel like a person is reading right off of a published paper. Instead for us Lily great podcasts are briefer, more intriguing audience experiences they offer added value. They offer what I like to call keyhole content more inside hurry thought provoking content like Project Background from the teams that the reader may not have actually been privy to. Infographics are a runner up as far as popularity are concerned. They’re simple way to convey complex information and create a long lasting content footprint. Great Ones tell a strong clear brief story. Most journal websites feature infographics so we don’t run into any issues from a tech perspective. While some journal editors opt to embed infographics and manuscripts and abstracts, other journal sites often have separate multimedia channels to post this type of content. The creative nature of infographics also make them very attractive content option for digital platforms. Again, while writing teams do not have a say in where their infographic ultimately goes when they submit it with a manuscript or abstract. It’s not uncommon, actually for our writing teams to create an infographic and submit it with a manuscript, only to later learn that their infographic may have gotten tweeted out by the journals Twitter handle. Medical journals have different policies when it comes to infographics. Some journals do not accept infographics that are created by writing teams and instead like to create their own internally based on the content that they accept and choose to publish. For instance, New England Journal of Medicine we found independently creates their infographics for all content on their site to ensure a consistent visual style, but some more smaller niche journals we found can be more flexible and leave those look and feel decisions up to the teams and accept content the team’s create. Infographics can also be very effective and appealing on posters were continual copy blocks can very quickly fatigue the eyes. The last format I’d spotlight is the advanced analytic data visualizations, which in my view, are really the format’s of the future. They’re the ones to watch. They’re really interesting to sync snapshots. They’re graphical, more clinical representations of information that dynamically communicate relationships between data that can be static or have motion, but really above all, they should have a singular scientific learning to convey that can be easily interpreted. That said, all of these treatments, they can be worked. At Lilly, this type of content is typically created through the involvement of a small internal core working team. People pulled from the molecule teams, which typically include individuals like the lead statistician, the medical director or medical lead, the internal lead author, the medical writer, the publication strategy lead, due to the nature of the content and often needs to be placed to a series of formal data tracks and internal reviews before deployment. And creation can take time, sometimes up to six to eight weeks depending on the dataset and the image content type that selected. ideal candidates for advanced data visualizations include safety and efficacy data, side effects or data over time. You can also really strive to address a difficult, difficult analytical result simplify a complex dataset or show patterns. Advanced analytic data visualizations can be embedded in a manuscript on a journal website, based on the website’s technical capabilities, like some but some, like New England Journal have multimedia channels devoted to this kind of content. Pending copyright policy of the journal it can also be helpful to look for medical science liaisons to use these assets in the field. With their interactions, these types of content can look very impressive on screens in booths at medical meetings as well. The best images are easy to understand unbiased transparent representations of the data. The key is to make sure that your medical journal target website has the technological capability to actually host and publish this kind of content prior to the team creating and submitting.
Jennifer Riggins 17:30
Wow, you just gave us a lot of great information. And I know we’ve been discussing a lot about EPCs as a way to enhance a publication. But I’m really interested now in seeing how you think these new approaches will change manuscript development and the basics of just scientific communication overall, do you have any thoughts or insights into this area?
Sarah Burns 17:52
Sure, Jenn, well at Eli Lilly, we not change the way we actually write our manuscripts with this. But what we have done is open the door to create proactive preemptive consistent conversations around dynamic content and data visualizations. Before creation, submission and launch, we ask ourselves, how can we best optimize answering key customer questions at Lily our publication strategy leads guide and advise our molecule teams to think very strategically around possible medical journal and their digital abilities early on, examining multi channel offerings, copyright policies and technological capabilities to actually host data visualizations in the spirit of creating stronger conversations upfront about how to optimally disclose scientific data. being selective and strategic when selecting journals is critical. Teams can sometimes get into a cycle of over saturating certain journals in a space. So, for us, it’s very important to be progressive around target selection, and diversity. We also continually invite our external authors and add board attendees to provide us with feedback on what they’re seeing in their own fields in the trenches with patients and peers. So, we create a nice tight loop for benchmarking.
Steve Casey 19:07
You know, Sarah, I don’t I don’t think I’d be doing a good job on this interview. If I didn’t ask about metrics. Can you give me some idea of how you view metrics and what the objective of the metrics you are monitoring is?
Sarah Burns 19:19
Sure, I’m glad you asked this question. Given a higher level of accessibility dynamic, digital content naturally lends itself to measurement. Metrics are critical, and they’re often not emphasized enough in the content creation process. Some teams just look at rejection and acceptance rates, and that’s their metric for publications. But at Lilly, there’s more to this than meets the eye. We see metrics as an organic part of how we execute content strategy end to end. We ask a lot of questions. The external audience really understand the content, operationally speaking, what worked and what didn’t during our creation process. How long did it actually take to write the paper the abstract of the manuscript, how can we do better next time? Overall, I believe the secret to strong content is measurement. It’s really about knowing what your audience needs and preferences are and really acknowledging that they’ll always change in scientific publications, the questions and the topics that we focus on are also fluid. How do we know if we’re writing about the right topic? And the right questions, if we’re not measuring the contents performance? I like to look at the engagement numbers from a digital perspective, like the pageviews, and the social shares. If you’re consistent looking at low numbers in these spaces, something likely needs to change. There are certain kinds of software that can help with metric captures, like Google Analytics Tableau alt metric, and you can always approach the medical journal and inquire to see if they’ll offer you any digital metric insights regarding your publication’s performance, like pageviews and downloads, or if it was placed on their social platforms, what you can learn, like the number of tweets, shares, etc.
Jennifer Riggins 20:57
So obviously, Lily believes in using data visualizations. And in our previous webinar, you showed a very engaging visualization, but in the end, the job was all about improving patient care. Can you tell us about anything about what types of outcomes or value that Lily is seeing generated from EPC, such as data visualization?
Sarah Burns 21:20
Sure, Jenn. I mean, the outcomes can vary depending on the team and their specific set of circumstances. But I can say with surety that there can be some very actionable and tangible content reuse opportunities if the team is looking for that type of unique opportunity to leverage this kind of dynamic content for multiple audiences. And some of our case studies that Willie we’ve seen MSLs use data visualization in the field with HCPs to help them with unsolicited questions to answer quick and easy and feedback has always been very positive. We’ve had teams place beautiful interactive, advanced analytic data visualizations on large screens and booths at congresses that have caught the eyes of attendees and thought leaders. Clinicians appreciate this organic and succinct nature of data visualizations and publications. So, we’ve had some wonderful downstream opportunities arise post publication. When we look at data visualization opportunities for medical congresses, with most being virtual in the past two years, we acknowledged the potential for data visualizations to be created for scientific Congress brochures for medical posters for oral presentations. And we’ve executed on some great visions in the last year very successfully. With our medical congresses, we’re also seeing more admission fees waived or reduced, and the content staying up on their websites for a year sometimes are more living a much longer life. So, the disclosure gets more staying power. And teams get the opportunity to share their data out to clinicians in these meetings in a different way to increase understanding and investment of the work.
Jennifer Riggins 22:59
Sarah, this has been so interesting. I’m afraid we’re out of time, though. Steven, I want to thank you for joining us today and answering all of our questions. I know that there is an enormous amount more that we could cover. And hopefully we’ll have a follow up episode in the future where we can delve deeper into some of these data visualizations and the art and science behind them. But until then, this has been Jennifer Riggins and Steve Casey bringing you the second episode of Digital First Scientific Communications, a podcast production of the Digital Focus Area Working Group of the Medical Affairs Professional Society. Catch our next episode, where we’ll be talking with a specialist in article level metrics about how they are changing medical publishing and scientific communication.
Steve Casey 23:48
If you are a MAPS member, thank you for your support of MAPS. If you’re not yet a MAPS member and would like to access to additional resources in this area. Please visit the MAPS website to explore joining today at medicalaffairs.org/membership. This concludes our podcast.
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